b3ta.com user daikoku
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» Narrow Escapes

Come to think of it, Hemel Hempstead's not too safe either
A mere 20 years after my near-drowning in Portugal, an older and wiser me was living in delightful Hemel Hempstead (famed for its 'magic' roundabout and, err, some other stuff probably).

Now I was living in a delightful flat above the parade of shops in a little place called Leverstock Green on the outskirts of town. A sleepy little hamlet, handy for my commute to work, and with rolling fields overlooking the industrial majesty of tank 912 of the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal, more commonly known as the Buncefield depot. Of course, I didn't know this at the time, but I was living next to (well, across just a few hundred metres of open fields) what was about to become the biggest explosion in peacetime Europe's history.

As alarm clocks go, this was a doozy.

At 6.01am, my room was brilliantly illuminated by a flash. I woke to see the curtains above my head fan into the room, despite the windows being closed. Odd, thinks I. Even odder to see the windows themselves bow inwards a little.

The noise and the shockwave felt as if they arrived at the same time. The entire house felt as if it was at sea and seemed to roll up and back down again. I was pitched out of bed and heard the most deafening CRUMPPPP.

My first thought was that someone had lit the petrol tank of one of the cars parked outside. I scrambled up and looked out of the window. Nothing there in the car park... but it struck me as somewhat odd to see an enormous column of flame rising up on the horizon. 'Well,' I thought, still a little dazed with being woken in such a manner, 'not my problem,' and promptly went back to bed.

Unsurprisingly, I couldn't sleep and after a few minutes got dressed and went to investigate. There were hundreds of people milling about, some still in their pyjamas trying to figure out what was going on. By the time I'd got a bit closer to the flames and continuing explosions, the police had closed off access so all I could do was go back to my flat and watch the fireworks. It was an awesome sight, close up.

In the cold morning light, I realised that the front door had been blown out of true and was slightly diagonal in the frame. It was a bloody close escape to not have been showered in broken glass that morning.

Funniest bit was getting phone call from my housemate who'd been away for the weekend. He was so disappointed that he'd missed 'the only interesting thing to have ever happened in Hemel.'
(Sat 21st Aug 2010, 19:18, More)

» Narrow Escapes

Portugal's not safe for kids
When I was just a little Daikoku, aged 5, our family went on holiday to Portugal. It was our first trip abroad and came within seconds of being my last.

We were staying in a big hotel complex of around 10 floors on the beachfront somewhere on the Algarve. The place had an indoor pool in the basement that led out onto a terrace overlooking the beach. I'd pestered my dad to take me and my brother down to play in the pool straight after breakfast, so he was getting our things together (towels, books etc) for him and Mum to read while me and my little brother splashed about.

We'd been to the pool a few times that holiday so when his back was turned to load the last of the stuff into the beach bag, I challenged my brother to a race. We flew out of the door, and started flying down the concrete stairwells towards the pool. The race was a simple challenge - get to the jacuzzi bit at the far end of the pool by the beach first. Now, being the bigger brother, I thought I could gain yet another slight advantage. Instead of running all the way round the pool, I'd leap as far in as I could over the deep end, then stagger the last few metres through the shallows to claim my place in the pantheon of victors until the next competition could be thought up.

By the time I'd reached the basement, my brother was left for dust. Victory was mine! I leaped, graceful as a salmon into the deep blue waters. I even remember cartwheeling my legs for those extra few inches of distance. I hit the water hard, and it knocked the air out of my lungs. I couldn't breathe, couldn't see a thing; I didn't even know which way was up, I was so confused and terrified. This was it, I thought. I think it was the first time in my life I'd felt proper panic.

Knowing my penchant for finding trouble at the drop of a hat, it was at this point I imagine that my father turned around in our apartment to the open door he'd just been addressing and realised that there might be a problem. Where was Daikoku? And exactly how quickly can you descend 10 flights of stairs just months after an operation to remove your cruciate ligament?

He found me splashing and flailing, just about still afloat, and pulled me to the side to catch my breath which I remember coming in big ragged lungfuls after enduring mouthfuls of chlorinated water. He said I'd actually slipped under as he jumped down the last few steps and saw the whole horrible scene in front of him.

Queue a massive bollocking about never going swimming alone again etc etc I don't remember seeing bright lights as consciousness slipped away, but I do remember getting an ice cream (as a reward for not dying presumably).

Length? Substantially further to the shallow end than I thought.
(Sat 21st Aug 2010, 18:30, More)

» I don't understand the attraction

TV, telly, the box, the boob tube.

I honestly could not give a flying fuck about one piss-licking thing on there.

I only have one in the house because it got included in the sale when I bought the place, a huge ugly lump of crappy plastic and glass spoiling the lovely aesthetic of my lounge. The aerial snapped on the roof in the gales earlier this year; I point blank refused to spend a single penny on repairing something I utterly resent and had absolutely no interest in. Eventually my girlfriend caved in after 8 weeks.

The main problem is that every single thing that is broadcast is made by and for vapid, moronic, mindless cunts.
(Thu 15th Oct 2009, 18:49, More)

» Impulse buys

Step right up
This QOTW is just aching for a soundtrack..."step right up" by Tom Waits springs to mind
(Sun 24th May 2009, 14:53, More)

» The Best / Worst thing I've ever eaten

Andouillette de Troyes
In a delightful French brasserie some years ago I was presented with a menu. Being an adventurous chap, my eye was drawn to the "Andouillette de Troyes AAAAA". Damn, with all those A's it must be the best thing on the menu! I asked a waiter what it was, and he replied that it was a type of sausage. Get in!

Une andouillette avec frites, s'il vous plait garcon. Et une biere grande, bien sur. Merci!

The dish arrived, accompanied by what can only be described as something of a farmyard smell. The first bite confirmed what I had suspected: the sausage smelled quite strongly of shite.

It was revolting. Like being force-fed a meaty fart from a fat Frenchman's sweaty arse crack.

I looked around expecting to see the waiter in fits of giggles, or the other patrons pointing and laughing. Not only was no-one paying me a blind bit of attention, the couple on the next table were wolfing down the same dish.

When I got back to the hotel I googled the offending article. Only the finest pig-colon sausage can be graded AAAAA (stands for Association Amicale des Amateurs d'Andouillette Authentique and is most certainly not a mark of quality).

Probably the second worst meal of my life, beaten only into the runner-up slot by a perfectly nice birthday meal, lovingly prepared by my girlfriend, which ended with gooseberry and broken glass fool.
(Thu 26th May 2011, 20:39, More)
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